Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Community Engagement
Ronnell Higgins was appointed as Yale’s inaugural associate vice president for public safety and community engagement in July 2022. Ronnell Higgins served as Yale’s Chief of Police since 2011 and concurrently, as Director of Public Safety since 2015. In these roles, he oversaw a department comprising 93 sworn officers, 15 dispatchers, and a Public Safety Department with more than 180 staff, to include the office of emergency management —all working to ensure and maintain the safety of students, faculty, and staff throughout the campus. Fiscal responsibility includes managing a $32M operating budget and oversight of 3 collective bargaining units.
As Yale University’s Chief of Police and Director of Public Safety, Chief Higgins was instrumental in significantly reducing crime on campus, reducing UCR crimes to their lowest levels since Yale began reporting in 1985. He has spearheaded numerous programs supporting excellence in on-campus safety, community policing, and deep collaborations with stakeholders, leaders, and members of both the University and City of New Haven communities while, at the same time, ensuring leading-edge focus on efforts to prepare for, respond to, and recover from state, national, and global threats. Additionally, he has led initiatives capitalizing on 21st century policing principles that have enhanced on-campus police and practices, including appropriate handling of numerous high-profile situations.
Ronnell Higgins has developed a reputation for thought leadership in policing and is recognized as a talented facilitator of greater integration (merging both the urban and the academic). He has advanced the training and professional development of police officers, security officers and safety managers as well as fully integrated and maximized use of public safety systems, while leveraging institutional expertise to inform campus safety initiatives.
Active within the community and industry, he was appointed to serve on the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Justice System and appointed a member of the Police Officers Standards and Training Council (POSTC) in 2013 by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. In 2021, he was reappointed to the POSTC by Governor Ned Lamont and currently chairs the certification committee. He is an Executive Fellow with the National Police Foundation, currently serves as a member of the IACP Human and Civil Rights Committee and serves as an Executive Board Member with the Boys and Girls Club of New Haven. A past vice president of the CT Police Chiefs Association, Chief Higgins serves on the executive board for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives for Connecticut (NOBLE). He was recently named among the “Most Influential in Security” by Security magazine and named one of Connecticut’s 100 Most Influential by the CT NAACP in 2021.
Over the past few years, Ronnell Higgins has augmented his significant professional expertise through his work with the Department of Homeland Security’s graduate education program—completing a Master of Arts degree in Security Studies through an intensive program at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. A graduate of the FBI’s National Academy, he holds a Bachelor’s degree in Law Enforcement Administration from the University of New Haven and a certificate in Law Enforcement Education from the University of Virginia. Additionally, he successfully completed the Crisis Leadership in Higher Education seminar at Harvard’s Kennedy Graduate School of Education.
Deeply committed to educating those interested in law enforcement and criminal justice, Ronnell Higgins is a Practitioner in Residence at the University of New Haven, where he also serves as a consultant and advisor in the University’s Center for Advanced Policing and teaches Criminal Justice and Policing classes. He consults in North America and internationally on law enforcement, campus policing, leadership, and public safety topics through Margolis Healy & Associates, as well as by invitation of various campus and municipal police departments.
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